Dad and baby bonding

Whether this is your first rodeo or not, bonding with a new baby isn’t always easy. Suddenly, that nine months you had to prepare might not feel like enough. Here are some tips to get you started if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Close up of a dad's arm holding a sleeping baby in a white babygrow

Pregnancy blog by our midwife Kate, 09/06/2017 updated 19/11/20

Pregnancy and having a newborn can bring about a lot of change and a whole range of different feelings and emotions, for you and your partner. It’s normal for dads to express anxiety and nervousness when it comes to caring for a newborn baby and finding your role can be difficult in the early days, particularly if mum is breastfeeding. This can be pretty constant and demanding, especially in the first few weeks. If you returned to work shortly after the birth and are away from the baby for most of the day it can make it more challenging to find that time to bond.

You’ve got this! But if you’re looking for a few pointers, start here:

Baby bonding tips

Skin to skin

This can be done right from day one. Place your baby on your chest, their skin next to yours.

Bathing and nappy changing

At first it may feel clumsy and you might be unsure. Do not worry about asking the midwife or health visitor to support you with this. Practice makes perfect - have confidence!

Baby massage

It is great if you are able to find some time in the day to do some baby massage. It can be part of a bedtime routine and can help your baby if they are suffering from wind or constipation. There will likely be a course local to you, which your health visitor will be able to give you information on, but you do not have to pay for a course to do this.

Taking baby out

The first few times you go out with your baby may feel quite daunting, and if your baby is being breastfed you may not be able to go out for long. Even if you make it out for a few minutes then that’s great. Try to be organised and make sure you have spare nappies, wipes and baby grows just in case! Exercise is great for your mental well-being as well as giving you bonding time with your baby.

Baby groups

Although this can be difficult when certain restrictions are in place, there are still some virtual baby groups operating online. Getting to meet other parents and having time just to play with your baby can be great for confidence and bonding as well as your baby’s development. Speak to your midwife and health visitor to find out more.

Finding bonding difficult?

Bonding with your baby does not always come straight away. It does not make you a bad parent nor should you feel any kind of guilt around this.

If you have tried these ideas and feel you need further support then there are lots of services that will be available to you in your local area. You can speak with the midwife and health visitor for support, or your GP.

Many also find peer support can really help, whether this is in groups or online, whatever you feel will help you.

More on fathers' mental health

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